A White Person on White Privilege

My friend and former student Danielle Bonilla asked me for my take on “white privilege.” This phrase, which Peggy McIntosh famously unpacked in her 1989 essay “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,”  has received a lot of attention lately, positive and negative. In this post, with Danielle’s permission, here are her questions and my responses. What is your perspective on white privilege? “White privilege” is […]

Race & Justice: A Primer on Key Terms

“ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.” —James Baldwin #‎Racism‬ – When your society divides people into “races” based on arbitrary factors like skin color or ancestry and ascribes different worth to the different groups ‪#‎Prejudice‬ – When you have negative thoughts or feelings toward people of another race or ethnicity […]

Visual Interpretations of Okada and Steinbeck, by Raeanne Watkins

Corrigan’s Editorial Note: In U.S. Literature in Spring 2015, Raeanne Watkins created the following images in response to John Okada’s No-No Boy and John Steinbeck’s The Pearl. Okada describes experiences of Japanese Americans after the WWII internment, while Steinbeck offers a parable, set in Mexico, about poverty and wealth. I find Ms. Watkins’ images striking on their […]

Sculpture Angel of the Waters by Emma Stebbins (1873); photo by Ahodges7 (2008).

The Postsecular and Literature

A review of scholarship. by Paul T. Corrigan 1. Introduction In late modernity and postmodernity, many aspects of traditional religion have become intellectually and morally untenable. Among the most pressing of these are the patriarchy, homophobia, and antisciencism that so often come with traditional religion. At the same time, however, many contemporary writers, religious and nonreligious, […]

Sculpture of Enée et Anchise by Pierre Lepautre (1697), Photo by Miniwark (2006)

Literature of Exile

Many people do not realize that Jesus was quoting directly from the Book of Leviticus when he said to love one’s neighbors as oneself. This context lends an important layer of meaning to his words. Often his saying is reduced to an encouragement to “be nice” to others. While not a bad admonish as far as it goes, that interpretation […]

Watercolor of Ephemera Vulgate, Katherine Plymley, 1805.

William Bartram Contemplates Ephemera

William Bartram—the naturalist who effectively missed the American Revolution because from 1774-1777 he left his home in Pennsylvania and traveled through the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida—had a vast knowledge of ecology, including plants, animals, soil, landforms, and weather, which he demonstrates in his book on that expedition, commonly known simply as his Travels. If the glossary in the Library of […]